Juneteenth is a cause for celebration.
The holiday, also called Emancipation Day and Jubilee Day, celebrates the day the slaves of Galveston, Texas were finally told they were free – even though President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation two years prior.
Although Juneteenth was first celebrated in 1866, it was not recognized as a federal holiday until June 2021, when President Joe Biden signed it into law.
“This is a day, in my view, of deep weight and deep power,” Biden said during the signing ceremony at the White House. “A day when we remember the moral stain, the terrible toll that slavery took on the country and continues to take.”
Since Juneteenth is now a federal holiday, many schools, businesses and government buildings will be closed on Monday, June 20. If you’re looking for something to do, you’re in luck because we’ve rounded up all the best ways to celebrate Juneteenth, whether virtually or in person.
Take a look at all the events happening across the United States, plus other meaningful ways to observe the holidays with your family and friends.
Watch the parades and events on June 19
Since Juneteenth became widely recognized, more and more events have popped up across the country. If you live in New York, Texas, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and Georgia, you’re in for a treat as there will be plenty of events happening throughout the weekend.
Here are some popular June 19 events happening in 2022:
- Atlanta, Georgia: Juneteenth Atlanta Parade & Music Festival, June 17-19
- Fort Worth, TX: I Am Juneteenth Festival, June 18
- Louisville, Kentucky: Louisville Juneteenth Festival, June 16-19
- New York, New York: Juneteenth Family Fun Day Festival, June 17-19
- Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Homecoming Celebration June 17-19
Get your food on
It’s not June 16th until you eat some great soul food, the ethnic cuisine prepared by African Americans. This type of cooking arose out of necessity when slaves had no choice but to prepare meals with inexpensive ingredients and limited supplies.
Once African Americans won their freedom, staples of the past, including catfish and red soda water, became revered. Over time, soul food has taken on a whole new meaning. Now, a typical soul food meal consists of fried meats, hearty side dishes, and sugary drinks like lemonade.
While you can still spend Juneteenth whipping up inspired recipes, you might want to leave that to the pros. In that case, head to your local black-owned restaurant for a delicious meal.
Shop Black-Owned Businesses
Black-owned businesses have struggled during the coronavirus pandemic and could use your help greatly.
Forbes has learned that black-owned businesses fell 41% between February and April 2020, and if they could stay open, an August 2020 survey found it would be incredibly difficult for them to stay profitable.
This Juneteenth, take stock of what you need and consider buying exclusively from Black-owned food, beauty and children’s clothing brands. Check the Nile List and similar directories to find a range of companies to shop among.
While you’re at it, support black authors, musicians and artists too. Because your dollar can really do a lot.
Set aside the day to dive even deeper into the past, present, and future of black culture. Take a trip to the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute in Birmingham, Alabama, the DuSable Museum of African American History in Chicago, Illinois, or the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute in New York.
Learn about black culture
But if that’s not your thing, you can always gather your closest family and friends for a movie night.
Press play on movies highlighting black talent, like “Alice” starring Keke Palmer or “Emergency” directed by Carey Williams. Not only are these films incredibly entertaining, but they will also spark important conversations.
Get the kids involved
It’s never too early to start teaching your children the importance of Juneteenth. Collect a bunch of Juneteenth-inspired crafts, so they can learn by doing. Help them create the Pan-African flag for June 19 by gluing popsicle sticks together and coloring them with red, black and green markers, just like the blogger behind Crafting a Fun Life did here.
Another idea: Write down the names of different black leaders on pieces of paper, stick them in a bowl, and have your kids choose a name to see their impact. You can also sprinkle in some Juneteenth quotes for good measure.
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